Photo Credit: Flickr Public Domain Mark 1.0

If you’re looking for commentary and tips on who to vote for in the midterms this year, don’t look to find your answers on TikTok. While other apps such as Facebook have banned the ability to purchased political ads days before the election, TikTok has chosen to not allow any midterm ads to Gen Z voters in searches at all. Instead, when they search midterms, they get college exam results. And the only ones who do actually get midterm election results are those that are already politically active.

“Not a lot of people know about it,” Meadow Treadwell, 20, said about her college-age peers and the midterm elections. “Maybe because they don’t relate to it.” She says she hasn’t seen any midterm election videos but the one she made about midterm exams had near 1 million views. A study by a Senior Vice President of Google, Prabhakar Raghavan showed 40% of Gen Z’ers prefer TikTok and Instagram as search engines over Google and Pew said 26% of adults under 30 get news from TikTok. So that shows TikTok would be the perfect place to share political messages with that demographic.

“When it’s presidential elections, that’s when our generation really takes their own spin on it and creates content around that,” 19 year old University of Southern California student Stephanie Chen stated, who makes content about anxiety surrounding midterms. “With midterms, I don’t know if it’s because I’m not on that side of TikTok, but I haven’t seen any.”

The hashtag “midterms” has 400 million views, largely education content. The hashtag “midterm exam” has 16 million views while “midterm electins” has 12 million views. The question is whether political content is being moderated out or if it’s just not being created. If it isn’t created, that goes to the content moderation debate about whether social media platforms should be curating content or just allowing the topics people post to be displayed. Either way, there is clearly a missed opportunity to encourage political participation and voting going on now at TikTok.